Disney and Lucasfilm revealed more details of the highly secretive “Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker,” the conclusion of the epic Skywalker saga, at the D23 Expo in Anaheim on Saturday.
Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and “Skywalker” director J.J. Abrams took the stage with cast members for a select preview.
New cast member Keri Russell described her character, Zorri Bliss, as “very cool and a little shady. She’s kind of a criminal. She’s sort of this old friend of Poe’s.”
To which Poe himself, Oscar Isaac, chimed in with, “She’s no friend.” Fans were given a glimpse of Bliss’ bounty-hunter-like costume, a red form-fitting suit and a gold helmet.
While he was joined by Russell, Isaac, Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Kelly Marie Tran (Rose), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Naomi Ackie (new character Jannah), Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca) and Billy Dee Williams (Lando), Abrams dedicated most of his time on stage to discussing the late Carrie Fisher.
“The character of Leia is the heart of this story,” he said. “We realized we could not possibly tell the end of these nine films without Leia.”
As has been previously reported, Abrams reiterated that Fisher’s footage was culled from outtakes from “The Force Awakens.” Abrams also noted that he was not originally on board to direct the conclusion of the Skywalker saga, having replaced the departed Colin Trevorrow, and told a story of revisiting Fisher’s book “The Princess Diarist.” In it, Fisher thanks Abrams for “putting up with her” twice.
“I had never worked with her before ‘Force Awakens’ and I was not supposed to direct this movie,” he said, joking that Fisher was prophetic. “She was almost supernaturally witty.”
Abrams also gave Williams a brief shout-out. “Lando has never left me. He’s been with me all these years,” he said.
And Daniels, who has portrayed C-3PO in all nine core “Star Wars” films, sought to assure fans that Episode 9 would give them what they’ve wanted. “It’s hard for me to understand that the story is ending,” he said. “But what an ending. I cannot wait to share what we’ve done.”
A new “Skywalker” poster spotlights the showdown to come between Rey and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), with the foes squaring off on a cliff, Rey tailed by blue lightning and Kylo trailed by red lightning. Kylo stands slightly above her, near the edge of the cliff.
The film’s official trailer is still being cut, but D23 attendees got a look at a compilation of footage.
It begins with Luke Skywalker saying, “A thousand generations live in you now. But this is your fight.”
Rey is on a desert planet with a bustling city, almost prequel-like in color. Poe and Finn and others are with her — they look down, and it’s bright and crowded with people, creatures, flags.
Cut to Rey throwing a lightsaber at a tree, which comes back to her like a boomerang. We see Kylo Ren on a barge-like ship. Luke fades as we move to a voiceover of the Emperor saying the journey nears its end, and then Rey, in Sith robes, unveils a Darth Maul-like double-sworded red saber, extending each side separately with dramatic flair. She stares straight ahead — the object of her gaze, and her ultimate allegiance, a mystery.